Pittsburghpedia: ‘The T’ doesn’t stand for what you think

Know your weird and wonky Pittsburgh terms? This post is part of a new series we’re calling Pittsburghpedia, a handy glossary of words and phrases unique to our city that’ll help you #talklikeyoulivehere. Let’s fill you in. Today’s entry … The T.  

WHAT IS IT? A 26.2-mile light-rail system that runs from the North Shore through the South Hills. Popular among daily commuters and teens going from Mt. Lebanon to concerts at Stage AE.

USAGE: “I’m gonna take ‘the T’ Downtown (Dahntahn) to Gateway Station to go to the Arts Festival.”

DID YOU KNOW? Everybody thinks the “T” stands for “trolley,” but that’s not so, Port Authority Spokesperson Adam Brandolph said. The “T” stands for … well, nothing. Back in 1985 when the system debuted, Port Authority ran a public naming contest because “trolley” and “streetcar” were deemed too old-fashioned. A number of suggestions came in, including PASS (Pittsburgh Area Subway System), but “T” was chosen. Other cities, such as Boston, also use the name the “T.”

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Port Authority is shifting away from the “T” usage, instead referring to it as a light-rail system because the phrase “take the T” isn’t very understandable for visitors. The branding or name isn’t officially changing right now, though it may in the future, Brandolph said.

C’MON RIDE THE TRAIN: There’s a free-fare zone between Downtown and the North Shore. Here’s more about how to use the light-rail system.

Got a Pittsburgh term you’re curious about? Ask away.